This is a great movie. While parents may initially be concerned over the drugs and sexual content of the movie, it's treated beautifully. Drugs are portrayed as an issue -- we see Mimi's beautiful life destroyed by heroin addiction, and in the end she recovers -- it's always made clear that heroin is nothing but bad for her. Sex is treated pretty lightly by the characters because they live a bohemian lifestyle. But the relationships in this movie show nothing but strong love and commitment. The one relationship used as a model for everyone, Angel and Collins', is a relationship between a gay man and a drag queen. They have a beautiful and loving relationship, and their song "I'll Cover You" shows the ideal of love, two partners caring for and helping each other. Roger and Mimi's relationship is difficult throughout due to Mimi's drug abuse, but eventually that issue is resolved and they find their way together. Maureen and Joanne's relationship is a great anti-stereotype of lesbian relationships -- neither of them is a typical butch or femme lesbian, and neither defines herself by her sexuality.
Overall, the movie's portrayal of love and sexuality is a hugely positive message. Another great message is friendship, as these friends grow into a family together.
When younger kids (and older, really) see this, what will trouble them the most will probably not be the sex, drugs, or language, but the sadness of the story. A main character dies, another one struggles with drugs, most of the characters have AIDS, and the characters' relationship struggles are intense and hard to deal with. Yes, most people will cry when watching this movie. But the ending of it is so uplifting and positive that you can't help but love it.
In my opinion, this is a great movie to watch with your kids, or to let them watch. If you want to discuss it with your kids after, you can talk about relationships and how drugs can hurt your relationships with your loved ones. You can also talk about friendship and loyalty -- the main messages of the film.